To be honest, I think I'm going to miss Grozvenor Station. And Joodishooary Square. And Pennagon.
Last week, Metro held an elocution class at its downtown headquarters. Instructor Doris McMillon did her best to expunge those station pronunciations from the lexicons of Metro employees.
There were no actual train operators there -- those people who sometimes offer creative pronunciations of Grosvenor and Judiciary Square -- but about a half-dozen Metro workers who train train operators and others who occasionally make station announcements were taking part in the two-day class.
Three TV cameras, two radio crews, a wire service reporter and at least one newspaper columnist were also in the small room, looking for an easy story on a slow news day.
These sorts of stories practically write themselves, and when Sharon Thompson, a 28-year Metro employee, finally pronounced "L'Enfant Plaza" to Doris's satisfaction, and Doris responded by saying, "By Jove, I think she's got it!" well, journalistic cockles were warmed.
Doris, a former WJLA-TV anchor, had on a bright red suit, the sleeves trimmed with gold brocade. She exuded an air of cool, crisp confidence as she walked (and talked) the students through 50 commonly mispronounced words, including "auxiliary," "nuclear" and "subtle."
(I hope we never hear some of these words they practiced: "Attention passengers: There is nothing subtle about the nuclear device on the auxiliary track at Judiciary Square.")
Doris railed against a disease she called "slurritis," that condition where we are careless with our pronunciation, turning "that" and "there" into "dat" and "dere," and saying "Pennagon" instead of "Pentagon," "Moun" Vernon instead of "Mount" Vernon.
Vuhjineeya? It's out, said Doris. So is Murrlin. And both Washintun and Warshingtin.
Doris then moved to the Metro stations: No S in Grosvenor. No T in L'Enfant Plaza. That one took a long time.
"Lohn fon," Doris said, asking the students to mimic her Frenchified pronunciation. "One more time. I heard a T over there. Lohn. . . ."
Most students: "Lohn. . . ."
One student: "Lawn. . . ."
Doris: "No, not 'lawn.' Lohn. . . ."
All students: "Lohn. . . ."
Most students: "Fon."
One student: "Font." Then: "Fon." (By Jove, etc.)
Deck Chairs on the Titanic?
Of course, who cares how a driver pronounces "Grosvenor" as long as the trains run on time and the escalators work? The problem is that too often they don't.
I'm one of those who believe in Metro. Its value to the community can be measured in the vehicles that it keeps off our crowded streets and the tons of pollution that it keeps from our air. And I appreciate that it must be really, really hard to run a public transit system. Hey, if it was easy, everybody'd be doing it!
But the revelations in the recent series of articles by Post writers Lyndsey Layton and Jo Becker were dispiriting for those of us who ride the rails every day.
In one of WMATA's many responses to the series, Metro general manager/chief executive Richard White wrote: "I want to assure you that we are already tackling many of the concerns being reported and have made positive strides since last year."
Strides are what you have to take when you've stumbled and you're trying to catch up. Here's hoping Metro can.
My assistant, Julia Feldmeier, writes: Camp is a place where kids can be kids. And kids, as a rule, like to get dirty. Rolling in the grass, rustling through the woods -- what could possibly keep them clean?
Enter Clayton Smith, a 14-year-old Prince of Toiletries. He's not royalty, but his charitableness does confer him a sort of princely status in the eyes of Family and Child Services. His good deed: collecting toiletries from his Bethesda neighbors and delivering them to FCS, which then distributes them among campers who need them.
For the second year, with the help of two friends from Pyle Middle School -- Chris Bick and Will Crum -- Clayton distributed brown paper bags and instructions on what he needed to neighbors. Over Memorial Day weekend, they collected the loot and sorted through it. Their bounty: over 100 each of toothbrushes, bars of soap, and travel-size bottles of shampoo and conditioner, along with tubes of toothpaste, some washcloths, shower caps and, um, an errant box of Girl Scout cookies.
So why the urge to help others stay dirt- and cavity-free?
Says Clayton: "My parents have always taught me how important it is to give back -- and how good I have it. . . . These kids don't really have much, so it'd be really great if I could help them in any way I could."
We need your help, too, in the form of U.S. funds that will enable at-risk kids to attend Camp Moss Hollow this summer. Our goal is $650,000. So far, we've raised $45,316.60. Here's how you can make a tax-deductible contribution:
Make a check or money order payable to "Send a Kid to Camp" and mail it to Family and Child Services, P.O. Box 96237, Washington, D.C. 20090-6237.
To contribute online, go to www.washingtonpost.com/johnkelly. Click on the icon that says, "Make a Donation."
To donate by MasterCard or Visa by phone, call 202-334-5100 and follow the instructions.